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Okra with chicken, vegetables and chickpeas in lemon & mint sauce & Tavuklu, nohutlu bamya

Bountiful Fruit and Vegetable Market in Istanbul

Turkish cuisine is based on using fresh ingredients; fruit and vegetables are bought daily and seasonality is the key. However, especially in Southern Turkey, we also like to dry vegetables like eggplant (aubergine), bell and pointy peppers and okra when they are fresh, to be used when they’re not in season. In villages, these vegetables are simply attached in a piece of string when fresh (we scoop out the middle part/flesh of aubergines and peppers first; they are wonderful when stuffed with aromatic rice and/or ground meat), and hang outside village homes or terraces, to dry at the summer sunshine. With all the moisture gone, the result is intensely flavored dried vegetables ready to use.

Whenever I go to the Spice Market in Istanbul, I always get dried okra, aubergine and peppers. They not only taste great, but they also make wonderful decoration and a great talking point at my cooking classes.

Dried vegetables and spices galore at the Spice Market, Istanbul

Recently, my good friend and brilliant blogger Peri posted a wonderful Okra and Potato Stir fry recipe, at her blog Peri’s Spice Ladle, flavoring the okra with fragrant Indian spices, and inspired me to use my dried okra. It is amazing to see the similarities between Turkish and Indian cuisine, especially the love of spices; Peri’s lovely recipes are worth checking out.

Dried eggplants, okra and peppers used a lot in southern Turkish cooking; see how tiny the baby okra is!

Dried eggplants, okra and peppers used a lot in southern Turkish cooking; see how tiny the baby okra is!

So here comes Southern Turkish style okra with chicken. In Southern Turkish cooking, we like to keep the okra as whole, give a little trim to the stalk. We use lemon juice to reduce the sliminess and flavor the okra with dried mint and red pepper flakes; I love the refreshing, tangy taste of the dish and the texture that comes with the chickpeas. For a vegetarian option, you can skip chicken; potatoes would really work well with this dish too.

 Serves 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes               Cooking time: 35 minutes

225gr/ 1/2lb fresh okra or dried okra

250gr/9oz chicken breast, cut in bite size chunks

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes

400gr/14oz can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

30ml/2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

8fl oz/1 cup hot water

10ml/2 tsp dried mint

5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Plain rice to serve

Wedge of lemon to serve

To prepare the okra:

If you are using dried okra, simmer them in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just soft enough to slip through the string. Drain the water and take out the string, set aside.

Simmer dried okra for a few minutes in boiling waterIf you are using fresh okra, trim the stalks, then place the okra in a bowl. You can  treat them with the juice of lemon to retain color and reduce sliminess. As an alternative, you can also or sprinkle with 2-3 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar over okra and leave it to stand for about 1 hr, as  Ghille Basan, the prominent Turkish cookery author recommends.

Saute onion, garlic, chicken, add the chopped tomatoes

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and chicken pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes to brown them. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and ground black pepper. Mix to combine thoroughly.

Add lemon juice and hot water over the okra

Sprinkle the okra over the chicken and pour the lemon juice and hot water on top. Stir, cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes, until the okra are tender but not soggy. Add the (rinsed) cooked chickpeas, combine well and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the dried mint and red pepper flakes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

 Bamya, etli ve nohutlu 038

Okra with chicken, chickpeas and vegetables; dried mint and red pepper flakes add a wonderful flavorServe hot with plain rice and extra wedge of lemon by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,




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9 Responses to Okra with chicken, vegetables and chickpeas in lemon & mint sauce & Tavuklu, nohutlu bamya

  1. Peri March 27, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Thank you, my dear Ozlem, for mentioning my blog and for your wonderful comments:) You are truly sweet. So glad you enjoy the recipes.

    And I cant believe the size of the baby okra:) You know okra is much smaller even in India but these are really cute. And the concept of drying the vegetables is brilliant. Can’t wait to get to Istanbul some day and see all these goodies up close:)

    Planning to try this recipe out, looks so delicious and wholesome.

    And I have put in my nomination for Ozlem’s Turkish Table in 3 categories for the Saveur blog awards, with my fingers crossed for you:) Love that magazine.

    • Ozlem March 27, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Many thanks Peri, a visit to the Spice Market is a must; the spices, dried vegetables and all treats are truly mesmerising, I know you’ll love it there. Many thanks for the Saveur nomination, very kind of you 🙂

  2. Peri March 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Hi Ozlem! As you know, I truly enjoy your site, so I’ve nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. If you’d like to accept and re-post the award on your blog, check out my post here and follow the steps outlined :

    Love Peri

    • Ozlem March 28, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      Thank you so much Peri, I am truly honored!:) I will go thru the link for the nomination for my favorite blogs, many thanks again!:)

  3. Robert Richards Recipes April 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Now this recipe excites me a lot! I’m gonna have to make it this coming weekend for sure.

    • Ozlem April 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

      Hello Robert,

      Really glad that you will give it a go to this one – a real Southern Turkish recipe on okra. I am a bit of a lemon fan, and if you are too, by all means add a little more. Dried mint and red pepper flakes really take the okra to another level. Afiyet Olsun!


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